The nation demands a king. Samuel warns them about kings. Samuel grants their demand.
VERSE 1. When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel.
VERSE 2. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah. They were judges in Beersheba.
VERSE 3. His sons didn’t walk in his ways, but turned away after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.
His sons didn’t walk in his ways. This is a consistent pattern:
- A godly person rises up as a judge to rule the nation.
- The nation prospers.
- The godly person appoints their children as successors.
- The children do not live godly lives and are terrible leaders.
VERSE 4. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel to Ramah.
VERSE 5. They said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
make us a king to judge us like all the nations. From a human perspective, this request is reasonable. The nation had not experienced stable leadership. And from the perspective of the nation, their leaders have been more-or-less self-appointed.
VERSE 6. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD.
VERSE 7. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.
they have rejected me as the king over them. To the people back then, how obvious would it have been that God was their king? They probably imagined that God’s kingship was made effective through the judge who was leading them. However:
- The judges were not necessarily godly people.
- The judges were not necessarily good leaders.
- The judges might have been offensive people.
How do people recognize God’s kingship over them? We Christians see God’s kingship as a spiritual kingship.
If people back then had been reading the Bible, they would know their privileged status as his Chosen People. But they were not a people of the Bible.
VERSE 8. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so they also do to you.
served other gods. This is the crux of the matter. Demanding a too-strong leader is associated with idolatry.
In our day, we Christians easily fall into this type of idolatry. We imagine the purpose of a leader is “to improve the economy.” That is, to make us rich.
When they vote, most Christians disregard central issues of justice and truth and human rights. Instead, they vote based on whether a candidate will make them richer.
This is to worship the capitalist system. It is to have fallen into idolatry.
VERSE 9. Now therefore listen to their voice. However you shall protest solemnly to them, and shall show them the way of the king who will reign over them.”
VERSE 10. Samuel told all the LORD’s words to the people who asked him for a king.
VERSE 11. He said, “This will be the way of the king who shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them as his servants, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they will run before his chariots.
This will be the way of the king. The people have an naive understanding of kings. So Samuel tells them the awful truth about kings.
If there is a power-structure, power-hungry people will rule it.
If there is a hierarchy, ladder-climbers will climb to the top.
Such people are the epitome of self-centeredness and narcissistic behavior, whether secular ruler or church ruler.
VERSE 12. He will appoint them to him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will assign some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots.
He will appoint. A king will be self-centered and narcissistic. He will make people everywhere work for him.
VERSE 13. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, to be cooks, and to be bakers.
VERSE 14. He will take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, even their best, and give them to his servants.
take your fields. In our day, this is called “taxes.”
VERSE 15. He will take one tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give it to his officers, and to his servants.
VERSE 16. He will take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys, and assign them to his own work.
VERSE 17. He will take one tenth of your flocks; and you will be his servants.
VERSE 18. You will cry out in that day because of your king whom you will have chosen for yourselves; and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
VERSE 19. But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No; but we will have a king over us,
the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel. They had hardened their hearts against the truth.
VERSE 20. that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. Samuel repeated their words to the LORD God.
VERSE 22. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go to your own city.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.